Here Is Ukraine's President Zelensky As The Voice Of Paddington Bear

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has thrust the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into the global spotlight like never before, but he was already a well-known face in Ukraine before his political career began. Even his voice was famous insofar as it gave life to the titular bear in the Ukrainian dubbing of "Paddington" and "Paddington 2."

Over the weekend, we took a look at "Servant of the People," the 2015 television series where Zelensky, then a comedian and actor, starred as a history teacher, whose YouTube rant against government corruption goes viral and suddenly makes him an unlikely candidate for ... president of Ukraine. Life imitated art for Zelensky in a major way when he became a populist candidate and real-world analogue for his "Servant of the People" character, winning the election in 2018 and taking office as president in 2019.

Ben Whishaw — known for his role as James Bond's gadgeteer, "Q," in the Daniel Craig-led 007 blockbusters — provides the English voice of Paddington Bear. When the world at large caught wind of the fact that Zelensky had voiced the Ukrainian Paddington, movie clips immediately began circulating on social media. Below, you can see one such clip with Zelensky's voice dubbed in place of Whishaw's: 


Just remember that this same actor-turned-president, Zelensky, is now running defense in the middle of what "amounts to the largest ground war in Europe since World War II," as ABC News termed it. The surreal circus of news over the last few years only gets that much more bizarre when you stop to think that Zelensky, the voice of "Paddington," is now Russia's #1 target. CNN reports that when the U.S. offered to evacuate Zelensky from Ukraine, he said, "The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride."

Paddington is a refugee

Paddington takes his name from a railway terminus in Central London. In British author Michael Bond's original children's book, "A Bear Called Paddington," which helped inform the 2014 film, this station is where the character is found, sitting on his suitcase, with a note on his coat, reading, "Please look after this bear." Bond was reportedly inspired by newsreels of evacuated children during World War II. Paddington's fictional backstory is that he came on a lifeboat from Peru, eating marmalade.

A 2019 article in The New Yorker cast further light on the bear's origins as a refugee, noting that Bond may also have been inspired by the sight of Jewish children brought to Europe as part of the Kindertransport rescue from the Nazis. Now, due to a Russian invasion launched under the false pretense of demilitarizing and "denazifying" Ukraine, the U.K. is, according to the BBC, fielding an influx of hundreds of thousands of real-life refugees from Ukraine.

In a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Bond said, "I do think that there's no sadder sight than refugees." He also said Paddington Bear "stands up for things."